‘Videograph all stages of urban local bodies polls’

HC directs Tamil Nadu State Election Commission to strictly follow norms

The Madras High Court on Monday directed the Tamil Nadu State Election Commission (TNSEC) to ensure strict compliance with its own guidelines on the conduct of free and fair urban local bodies polls in 15 municipal corporations, 121 municipalities and 528 town panchayats.

Acting Chief Justice Munishwar Nath Bhandari and Justice P.D. Audikesavalu also ordered that all four stages (filing of nominations, polling, storage of ballot boxes in strong rooms and counting of votes) of the election should be recorded on video in order to ensure transparency in the process.

The orders were passed while disposing of a writ petition filed by the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK), represented by its organisational secretary D. Jayakumar, apprehending large scale electoral malpractices in the urban local bodies polls expected to be notified anytime.

Arguing on behalf of the petitioner, senior counsel Vijay Narayan claimed that the rural local bodies polls held in October were marred by numerous violations committed at every given point of time in order to accord an advantage to the ruling dispensation over other political parties in the fray. He claimed that the nominations of the AIADMK candidates were summarily rejected in several rural local bodies on frivolous and motivated grounds, .

The senior counsel insisted that the Returning Officers must be directed to issue an acknowledgement to the candidates mentioning the number of pages of the nomination forms and affidavits submitted by them. This would help in curbing the practice of pulling out a few pages just to reject the nomination, he said.

When the judges pointed out that all complaints could be addressed if the entire polling process was ordered to be video recorded, the TNSEC counsel said he had instructions from the Commission to state that the entire process would certainly be recorded.

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